Chelsea and Ethan are both attorneys. On TV, that might seem glamorous. However, in real life assures Chelsea : "It’s actually quite boring. At least attending law school allowed us to meet, so I suppose I can’t be too disappointed!" The couple dated for three years before getting engaged shortly after graduation. After spending their entire lives in Texas, they are set to embark on a new adventure in Washington, D.C. The couple have two cats, Jim and Vernon - which is "arguably our other defining characteristic aside from being attorneys." The couple met during our first year of law school, and Chelsea asked Ethan if he wanted to see a photography exhibition at a local museum. From there, their relationship grew and they still haven't lost their sense of humour, despite the many challenges they faced in planning a wedding in 2020.
"Originally, we were meant to get married in front of 200 guests at the Blanton Museum of Art in Austin. We had one of our first dates at the museum, we both took college classes there, and Ethan even worked as a volunteer docent for a time. It was a special place for us, and we were so excited to share it with everyone. But when the pandemic swept the United States earlier this year, we quickly postponed our large wedding and began planning a micro-wedding at the Blanton with just our immediate family. At least, we thought, we’d still be able to get married at the museum, surrounded by beautiful art. We thought wrong - with the pandemic showing no signs of subsiding (at least in Texas), the Blanton opted to close its doors for the rest of the year. A month before our wedding date." At this point, Chelsea wondered whether they should just call the whole thing off. "Thankfully, Cassie from Heavenly Day Events, our wedding coordinator, never hesitated to reassure me that things would work out. In fact, all of our vendors were extremely flexible with us throughout this process and were genuinely invested in fulfilling our vision for this elopement." Kayla Snell Photography was there to capture their day.
With the encouragement from Cassie, Chelsea began frantically sending out emails to (basically) every wedding venue in Austin. "We were looking for a place that effortlessly captured the laid-back attitude of Austin, the city where we had fallen in love. The Carpenter Hotel's eclectic use of refurbished vintage furniture and its no-frills modern atmosphere offered just that. Not to mention that The Carpenter Hotel's events coordinator, J.D., was so incredibly accommodating and excited about hosting our event. Although The Carpenter Hotel was not our original venue, it ended up being the perfect spot for our intimate elopement and has since become one of our favourite destinations." Although the hotel’s casual, white-bricked lobby and bowling alley-inspired restaurant already felt very true to Chelsea and Ethan, the addition of flowers from Blumen Floral made things feel truly special. Particularly Chelsea loved this beautiful addition. "I actually cried when I saw the floral installations for the first time." "We felt like it was dumb and selfish to be worrying about a wedding given everything that was going on in the world, but I’m glad we decided to push through. It was nice to simply experience one perfect, personal day of happiness amidst all the uncertainty. As only 2020 would have it, not one but two hurricanes barrelled towards our hometown on the week of our wedding. Luckily, we were spared and still able to get married on one of the sunniest, hottest days of the year."
When Chelsea and Ethan initially downgraded their large wedding to a micro-wedding, they were still intending that their parents and Ethan’s brother and future sister-in-law would be in attendance. Two weeks before the wedding, however, they decided that they couldn’t risk their family’s health. "So we uninvited everyone. It was devastating to make that call. But we realised that we would never forgive ourselves if someone got sick at our wedding. Plus, knowing us, we’d simply spend the entire day fretting over the possibility of someone getting sick. It just wasn’t worth it. However, in order to prevent an epic third-wheel situation, we did have two local friends - who were in a low-risk group and who had been diligent about quarantining — join us for dinner after our ceremony, much to our friend/celebrant Aakash’s delight."
There were of course some challenges of getting married without any family and friends present. "Not going to lie, there was a crushing sense of loneliness and emptiness as we were getting ready for the day. But somehow, I think the isolation was poetic? After all, the journey into love is one that we all wade into alone. I didn’t have someone comforting me and telling me that my promising to spend my life with Ethan was the right decision. Strangely, having to push through the anxiety and fear on my own made me realise how much I did know that Ethan was the right person for me."
In terms of outfits the couple kept things relaxed and contemporary. Chelsea wore a babydoll version of a dress from LEIN Studio. "The longer version, which I had tried on a year ago, was actually the runner-up dress for our original wedding. My veil was from Lola Varma, which I was able to find secondhand from Stillwhite. (The original bride kindly shipped it to me all the way from Australia!) The Manolo Blahnik shoes were a huge splurge for me, and I was lucky enough to pick them up during a flash sale from Luisa Via Roma. I wore earrings from Mejuri and a necklace from Gorjana. The necklace was actually one of the first purchases I ever made with my first paycheck back in college. I’ve worn it through countless job interviews and special occasions, and it was oddly comforting to wear it on my wedding day." Ethan wore a light blue linen suit and brown suede loafers from our local Suitsupply. "Funnily enough, we’ve managed to find ourselves at the store nearly every weekend this past year (buying and tailoring various suits and tuxedos for the different iterations of our wedding), and, as a result, we’ve become good friends with the custom-made suit specialist there, Tim Nguyen. He made sure that Ethan and our officiant both looked sharp for the event. Ethan’s and Aakash’s ties were both silk knits from the Tie Bar. Ethan was extremely indecisive about his tie, so we ended up lugging his entire tie collection up to Austin so he could choose on the day."
What was the most important component in Chelsea and Ethan's wedding planning? "Our guests! Hands down. Which is perhaps ironic because we ended up having no guests. But we had no guests because we put them first. We knew that we had to uninvite everyone because we couldn’t risk their health and safety. We also knew that nobody would have a good time if they couldn’t dance, eat, and hug free of worry. For our original wedding, yes, we wanted to declare our love for one another and plan a day that was an authentic representation of us. But we also wanted to throw a great, f'ing party. That meant planning a wedding that was, above all, fun : great food, great music, and, in Texas, great air conditioning. We knew that we’d have our big Jewish/Chinese/Vietnamese wedding (complete with rabbi, tea ceremony, the Hora, chuppah) one day, so we really wanted our elopement stripped down to the essentials: just two people telling each other how much they love one another . . . and getting roasted by their closest friend." In terms of wedding tradtions, the couple very much did their own thing. "The three us (me, Ethan, and Aakash) all got ready in the same room. Rather than a formal “first look,” I just popped into the bathroom to change and then shouted “ta da!” as I waltzed out. This may not be apparent in the photos, but it took us a good 30 minutes to tie Aakash’s tie to the right length. We wanted to start the wedding on time, and we were all really starting to sweat it by the fifth try." "Rather than have an aisle or a bridal entry, the three of us walked together to the ceremony space and, well, just kinda got started. (Aakash jokingly asked if he’d be able to do a second take if he messed up.) It was really important to us that our ceremony was authentic and casual. The three of us worked together to develop a script filled with jokes. Ethan and I, both coming from writing-heavy backgrounds, always knew we wanted to write our own vows. His focused on my unwavering kindness, and mine focused on his tiny, tiny bladder. (It’s a whole thing.) Despite having no guests in attendance, Aakash insisted on including the traditional request for objections, which ended up being a good laugh. Admittedly, the end of the ceremony was a little awkward because of the lack of guests or aisle. We didn’t know what to do or where to go, so we did a big impromptu group hug and then walked arm-in-arm to the side room."
The couple's photographer Kayla Snell Photography encouraged Chelsea and Ethan to do a traditional cake cutting. "I’m actually glad that we did! Ethan was in charge of guiding the knife and somehow made a completely diagonal cut across our beautiful Iced Cakes wedding cake. I’m not even sure how we managed to dig out a slice. At the end of the night, I tossed my bouquet to all the single guests in attendance—i.e., Aakash. He caught it."
Their advice to other couples navigating a Covid wedding? "Everything will go wrong! But really, no matter how much you plan, no matter how many Excel spreadsheets you make, a lot of small things will go awry. Just roll with it. With the rise of social media, I think there’s so much pressure these days to make your wedding the most perfect, best day of your life. If you get too wrapped up in that idea, you won’t actually enjoy the day. Right before our wedding, for example, I slammed straight into a bedframe and developed a massive bruise on my leg. At first, I was really upset that this would “ruin” our photos. Then I realized that it didn’t matter. This wasn’t a movie or magazine editorial. This was simply us—two regular, ordinary people on our wedding day."
Photographer : Kayla Snell Photography @kayla.snell | Ceremony location : The Carpenter Hotel @carpenterhotel | Reception location : Carpenters Hall @carpentershallatx | Videographer : Hereafter Films @hereafterfilms | Celebrant : Aakash Sur (Friend of the couple) @aakashsur
Planner : Cassie Morales at Heavenly Day Events @heavenlydayevents @heavenlyday_cassie
Flora : Blumen Floral @blumenfloral | HMUA : Crown of Glory Beauty @crownofglorybeauty | Catering + Beverages : Carpenters Hall @carpentershallatx | Cake : Iced Cakes @icedcakesatx | Bride's Dress : LEIN Studio @lein_studio | Bride's Shoes : Manolo Blahnik @manoloblahnik from Luisa Via Roma @luisaviaroma | Veil : Lola Varma @lola.varma.bridal from Stillwhite @stillwhite | Groom's Suit + Shoes : Suitsupply @suitsupply with tailoring by @tim_nguyennn | Rings : I.Gorman Jewelers @igormanjewelers Sholdt Jewelers @sholdtjewelers | Earrings : Mejuri @mejuri | Necklace : Gorjana @gorjana | Ties and Tie Clips : Tie Bar @thetiebar